May 21, 2024

OneNote: Microsoft is stepping up security

After Microsoft’s OneNote has been increasingly misused in phishing campaigns in recent months, the software company is now tightening security precautions for its digital notebooks.

8com reported in January that cybercriminals are using OneNote attachments in phishing campaigns to spread malware with an increasing frequency in recent months. Perhaps the background to this change in strategy is the fact that Microsoft finally deactivated macros in Office documents by default in July last year. As a result, the former favorites to distribute malware, Word and Excel files, faded into phishing campaigns and criminals had to find new ways to reach their target.

Microsoft is now reacting to these new developments and announcing in the new Microsoft365 roadmap that they will increase OneNote security. The improvements will be rolled out as early as April 2023. A particular focus is on protection when opening files embedded in OneNote documents. For example, users should receive an additional warning if files are classified as dangerous by the program.

However, it is questionable whether this measure in particular actually contributes to an increased level of protection. In fact, users tend to ignore such warnings and simply click away. This means that they risk exposing not only their computers, but also the entire connected network. It is therefore advised that you take your own security precautions in addition to the improvements announced by Microsoft. For example, secure email gateways or email servers to automatically block OneNote documents with .one extensions. In addition, Windows administrators can use Microsoft Office Group Policy to prevent embedded OneNote files from running.

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